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[whitespace] Ed Voss Seventh Heaven: Ed Voss scored George Shirakawa Jr.'s endorsement in the District 7 race.

Public Eye

Sign Times

MOTORING TO a barbecue this weekend, Eye was a little confused to see that election signs had already sprouted in the public right of way on McLaughlin Avenue. The signs, for District 7 San Jose City Council Candidate Alfredo Benavides, were also spotted by an Eye operative downtown, well outside of District 7. Thing is, candidates aren't supposed to start sticking their signs on every available pole, fence and tree until November. "Yeah, I know," Benavides groans. "A couple of my supporters got a little zealous, and I had to tell them to bring them down. I'd given them signs but told them not to put them up, but some put them up anyway." City Clerk Pat O'Hearn says she put in a reminder call to the cavalier candidate after one of her staffers spotted the signs. ... "I bought the signs before I read the rules," Benavides says sheepishly. "That's why the rest of the 250 signs are still in my garage." Benavides says he paid for the signs himself, kosher behavior before the beginning of campaign season Sept. 6, or 180 days before the March primary. ... So far, the field of aspirants hoping to replace the termed out George Shirakawa Jr. is the widest among the five council seats on the March ballot. In addition to Benavides, S.J. Planning Commissioner Bob Dhillon, Franklin-McKinley School Board member Terry Gregory and longtime neighborhood activist Ed Voss have all declared. ... Shirakawa says he's backing Voss: "Ed's done the most work of any of them and he's done a lot of work in the neighborhood." ... Perennial office seeker Honest Andy Diaz will also be on the ballot, but won't need to worry about getting his signs up too soon--his signs from past elections are still plastered on utility poles all over the district. ... One name that won't be on the ballot belongs to NAACP Prez Rick Callender, who whispered his announcement to Eye after sitting down with Shirakawa earlier this week. "I think I'm definitely going to bow out," reports Callender, who instead plans to put his energy into building up the NAACP.

Teaming Up

The Ron Gonzales campaign team will look a little different this time around. Although Jude Barry, Gonzo's longtime strategist who bailed out of the mayor's office last year amid rumors of a falling out, won't be involved, there will be several holdovers from Gonzo's first mayoral bid. Among them will be Deputy Chief of Staff Dustin DeRollo, 25, who joined the Gonzales camp last time as an unpaid grunt, stuffing envelopes and dropping off lawn signs before moving on to more interesting things like coordinating the phone bank. But before offering himself on the altar of electioneering, DeRollo will be getting married in mid-September, then take a leave of absence from the mayor's office after returning from his honeymoon. ... If 25 sounds youthful, remember that Barry was also 25 when he first hooked up with Gonzales to help him grab a seat on the Board of Supes in 1988, and Ronzo himself was a tender 26 when he made his first unsuccessful bid for Sunnyvale City Council. ... And there will be plenty of adults to supervise. Mayoral budget director Joe Guerra will be one the mayor's closest advisers. Reprising their roles from last time will be the same trio of political hired guns: Political consultant Mary Hughes, L.A.-based pollster John Fairbank and media massager Joe Trippi. ... DeRollo says they'll be hitting the same basics as last time: better schools, less traffic, stronger neighborhoods, safe streets and more affordable housing. He adds that, even though things look easy now, "the mayor's not taking anything for granted and he's committed to working hard.

Neece Try

For the last several weeks, John Neece has been telling Eye that he'd have more to say about whether he'd make a bid for S.J. mayor after he got a chance to sit down with the current officeholder. Well, Neece and Ron Gonzales met last week, and the construction union leader says he'll have something more conclusive to announce any day now. Although there was some tension between the two a few weeks ago Neece says it was gone at their meeting. "You know, we were frank with one another," Neece says. "We talked about the future of downtown and the future of the whole city. . . . We actually left on real good terms. I supported him for mayor the first go-round, and I just told him I think he needs to reach out a little more to a broader base."

Rosie Scenario

Assembly wannabe Sally Lieber stopped by last week to drop off her newest campaign propaganda: A tabloid-size poster of Rosie the Riveter rolling up her sleeve and showing off her muscle. Lieber says her political consultant, Richie Ross, bought the rights to the famous wartime morale builder, and Lieber's campaign printed up 5,000 copies of it, tagged with Lieber's name. ... But that's not the only campaign piece making the rounds. Someone stopped by the newsroom to drop off a printout of a disturbingly amateur hit piece--please, disgruntled tipsters, keep that caps lock off--alleging that the 22nd AD aspirant is "a complete phony" because she didn't graduate from Stanford, or, well, she probably didn't because her file is sealed (the registrar says there's a "privacy lock" on her file.) Although an Eye operative says the missive made its way to other desks around town, Lieber says she wasn't aware of the unauthorized bio. She admits she still needs to finish her public policy thesis, and she will one day because "I promised my mom I'd graduate."

Bill Ban

Anyone looking for the winning sculpture at this year's California State Fair won't find it on the fairgrounds in Sacramento. Fair officials pulled the piece by Fremont artist Peter Langenbach, which a spokesman said "may be offensive to some and inappropriate for children." The sculpture shows a life-sized Bill Clinton grinning in a tub with Monica Lewinsky surfacing between his legs. Behind her, a frog with the head of Ken Starr is snaring the ex-prez with a fishing line. "They said they were concerned about the placement of her head," creator Langenbach offers. The artist earned a spot in the state fair by winning best of show at the Napa County Fair last year. The sculpture is made out of an old pinball machine and other recycled objects. "It's satire," confides Langenbach, "I try to point out folly, and there's a lot of folly in politics." He cites another sculpture of his, where Uncle Sam waves fistfuls of million-dollar bills. Although Langenbach calls the removal "censorship," he concedes that he probably wouldn't bring the sculpture to class at the Union City middle school where he works as an art teacher. Voyeurs can find "Loose Lips" on display at Zyt Gallery in Los Altos starting Sept. 11.

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From the August 30-September 5, 2001 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2001 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

For more information about the San Jose/Silicon Valley area, visit sanjose.com.

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